At home with our friends from the North – Afon Mellte Waterfalls   10 comments

Well, the next day was worse, overcast with heavy persistent rain all day. I volunteered to watch most of the kids while Mark and the rest of adults and A went to visit Hereford cathedral and the Mappa Mundi, fascinating but I’ve seen it a few times already. You can read about their little trip here on Marks blog.

The next day the forecast was slightly better so we decided that a day by the waterfalls to the SW of the Brecons would make a decent day out. The rivers of the Mellte, Nedd and Hepste create a playground of waterfalls, caves, gorges and rivers that are the best in the UK in my humble opinion. I took in this walk around the same time last year and as you are to find out the conditions were slightly different.

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Afon Mellte enters Porth yr Ogof

When we set off the weather was damp but only raining lightly. As we drove down towards Abergavenny and over the Heads of the Valley road it turned pretty nasty with dark brooding skies and heavy rain. I was tempted to pull over and just head home, such was paucity of the weather but pressed on as we’d already come a long way. When we pulled into the car park the weather was quite frankly appalling. We decided to have a comical picnic in the car with the rain playing a drum-beat on the roof. I enlivened the proceedings by lighting the stove for a brew between my feet under the steering wheel, an act that Jane thought bordered on suicidal. By luck we survived but the weather was still pretty vile. We decided that we were going to get very wet anyway so may as well make the most of it so off we went.

We’d enthused the kids with tales of the massive cave of Porth yr Ogof which you can walk into via the dry river bed that precedes it. Not today. Rather than the dry-bed what we got was a raging torrent of foaming brown water and we could barely see the cave let alone walk into it. We made do with an exploration of the various access points into the roof of the cave as you start to head downstream. The water emerges from the cave at a spot called the blue pool normally a crystal clear calm pool of water much used by cave divers for practice. Today it was a just part of the roaring Mellte river and an exhilarating spot which I think the kids loved, especially watching the water charge from the cave mouth.

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The Blue/Brown Pool

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Fun in the rain

I’ve been to this spot several times and have never seen it like this. It really whet the appetite for the main falls to come.

It’s a good couple of miles to the falls a journey enlivened by the numerous side streams that were racing across the path. I put my trail shoes to the test and stood in the water to help all the kids (and adults) across. The kids thought this was mighty exciting and it added a sense of adventure and fun into what could have been a depressingly wet day.

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River Mellte riverside path/wade

I was chuffed that everyone seemed to be having a good time. It helped to cover my frustration and disappointment that the summer weather was so poor when I had so many places I wanted to share.

We reached the first fall Sgwd Clun-Gwyn and as expected it was majestic, a maelstrom of spray and noise, a real wow factor and totally different from the last visit. No gorge scrambling or canyoning today!

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Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

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Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

The next fall Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn was even better as you can walk right down to the edge of the falls (although I had my heart in the mouth most of the way along the narrow path above the gorge with the kids at play!). When we were last here there was a group of canyoners scrambling behind the falls – no chance of that today!

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Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

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Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

We’d hoped to continue on to to the star attraction Sgwd yr Eira with its path behind the falls. However it was late and the kids were tiring and we guessed we’d probably get nowhere near the falls let alone walk behind them. Reluctantly we retraced our steps with more stream crossings and arrived back at the car completely soaked. A wet day but everyone seemed to have had a great time, sometimes you just have to take a chance on a bad day and try to get the most out of it. I think we achieved that objective to great effect.

You can read Marks account of the day complete with his first musical slide show here. Mine is below so hope you enjoy it, captures the mood with the videos better than the photos alone. Surely we had to get a better day before Mark and his family returned home…

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10 responses to “At home with our friends from the North – Afon Mellte Waterfalls

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  1. By there was some water there!
    I like the wibbly-wobbly transition between the slides on your movie; it’s like going through a space-time continuum…

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    • Amazing was the word – it’s an absolutely superb part of Wales of you’re ever down this way, pleasant in the sun, dramatic in the wet. The transition is called “ripple” in my software – seemed appropriate for the day 🙂

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  2. We liked the footage of D crossing the stream – his comedy act is destined to be one of our abiding memories of the trip I think. Less pleased with the final still of the video. Does my bum look big in this?

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    beatingthebounds
  3. Superb pictures of the falls. Unfortunately we are very unlikely to be backpacking when the conditions are best for them!.

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    • Thanks Geoff. It’s an equally fine walk when the weather is dry with some decent wild swimming opportunities and some lovely riverside spots for a long lingering stop

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  4. Andy – fantastic photos and video showing the power of water.

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  5. Thanks Mark, it really was amazing to see them in full force and surprising how quick we forgot what a horrid day it was from a weather perspective.

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  6. Good to see some of all that water that has been falling from the skies being put to good use! I do like a good thundering waterfall.

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    backpackingbongos
    • There was more than enough water to go around that week. Bit of a fan of waterfall scenery and this area is pretty special. Just shows that you can get a great day out of any kind of weather if you pick the right activity. I wouldn’t have wanted to be up on the hills that day!

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